Lessons from the past

A book I have always skimmed through is 'Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' published by Bison Books Ltd in 1979 and again in 1990 & 1993.
In chapter 2 'Of the union and internal prosperity of the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines' there is a paragraph that has always stuck in my mind.
 ''... it was scarcely possible that the eyes of contemporaries should discover in the public felicity the latent causes of decay and corruption.
This slow peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was exstinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated. The natives of Europe were brave and robust, Spain, Gaul, Britain and and Illyricum supplied the legions with excellent soldiers, and constituted the real strength of the monarchy. Their personal valour remained, but they no longer possessed that public courage which is nourished by the love of independence, the sense of national honour, the presence of danger, and the habit of command.....................................................'''''
And then in chapter 7 'The elevation and tyranny of Maximin' (AD 235 - 248) (2011 - reflect on the Middle East)
''.....The dark and sanguinary soul of the tyrant was open to every suspicion against those amongst his subjects who were the most distinguished by their birth or merit. Whenever he was alarmed with the sound of treason, his cruelty was unbounded and unrelenting.
As long as the cruelty of Maximin was confined to the illustrious senators, or even to bold adventurers.........the body of people viewed their sufferings with indifference, or perhaps with pleasure. But the tyrants avarice, stimulated by the insatiate desires of the soldiers, at length attacked the the public property.....
...... throughout the Roman world a general cry of indignation was heard, imploring vengeance on the common property of human kind; and at length, by an act of private oppression, a peaceful and unarmed province was driven into rebellion............''